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Nothing....Food or Money.....(10 posts)

Nothing....Food or Money.....Jrm
Feb 7, 2002 8:24 PM
I currently live in a pretty liberally influenced area, and grew up in "white bread" Suburbia. For one thing i cant believe how many panhandlers/druggies and mentally impaired people ive encounterd since living here. in December i saw some dude shoot up on Market for the first time while on my way to a meeting downtown. It was weird in that i couldnt just say "oh focking drug addict" like back home. I said to myself this is the human condition for some. That was my defense..i think. Or when i see some crazy guy say to mini van driver that almost him when he ran a red light on a bike "You better be careful when you drive that thing..moutha focker" it all seemed different then when i would hang out the window of the car and do the crazy laugh as you pass the crosswalk adjacent to the local mental institute back home.

Now they ask me for money. i usually hesitate in replying, Then, if i have munchies in my pack i ask if theyre hungry. Some say "no" after i refuse to give um money and offer them food. More say "yes" and take the Clif bar, banana or whatever i have in my bag and go on their way. Im going say that i feel good about myself after these situations cuz i feel that maybe im a making difference. Then i say that maybe by doing what im doing im inflicting my white bread ideals on these people. My perception of what their reality as i give them food.

I dont know. i think you guys/gals will probably think its kinda weird... but i'd like to know how you deal with situations like those ive described.

Do you not do anything. Give Nothing, Food or Money. Peace
Learn the white-bread horizon starecory
Feb 8, 2002 8:47 AM
I don't know what "liberally influenced" has to do with this (there are homeless people and panhandlers in all cities, whether conservative or liberal). You can trace a lot of this back to health care cuts in the '80s under St. Ronald...but never mind that.
I agree they'll beat you to death if you let them. At first, my impulse was to help out, but if you're getting hit up 25 or 30 times a day, you simply can't. I'll give an occasional dollar or two. Otherwise, I ignore, shake my head, look in the other direction, whatever. It's a bad situation, and I'm still not comfortable with it after 20 years of off-and-on exposure--but if I gave even 50 cents to everybody who asks me for money, I'd probably be spending $250 a month.
the urban condition email- look at numbers 4-7, 9, 21 & 24 - LOLMJ
Feb 8, 2002 8:59 AM

1.You say "the City" and expect everyone to know which one.

2. You have never been to The Tower or Madame Tussauds but love Brighton.

3. You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Shepherds Bush to Elephant & Castle at 3:30 on the Friday before a long weekend, but can't find Dorset on a map.

4. Hookers and the homeless are invisible.

5. You step over people who collapse on the Tube.

6. You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multilingual.

7. You've considered stabbing someone.

8. Your door has more than three locks.

9. You consider eye contact an act of overt aggression.

10. You call an 8' x 10' plot of patchy grass a garden.

11. You consider Essex the "countryside".

12. You think Hyde Park is "nature".

13. You're paying 1,200 a month for a studio the size of a walk-in wardrobe and you think it's a "bargain".

14. Shopping in suburban supermarkets and shopping malls gives you a severe attack of agoraphobia.

15. You pay more each month to park your car than most people in the UK pay in rent.

16. You pay 3 pounds without blinking for a beer that cost the bar 28p.

17. You actually take fashion seriously.

18. You have 27 different menus next to your telephone.

19. The UK west of Heathrow is still theoretical to you.

20. You're suspicious of strangers who are actually nice to you.

21. Your idea of personal space is no one actually physically standing ON you.

22. 50 pounds worth of groceries fit in one plastic bag.

23. You have a minimum of five "worst cab ride ever" stories.

24. You don't hear sirens anymore.

25. You've mentally blocked out all thoughts of the city's air/water quality and what it's doing to your insides.

26. You live in a building with a larger population than most towns.

27. Your cleaner is Portugese, your grocer is Somali, your butcher is halal, your deli man is Israeli, your landlord is Italian, your laundry guy is Philippino, your bartender is Australian, your favourite diner owner is Greek, the watch seller on your corner is Senegalese, your last cabbie was African, your newsagent is Indian and your local English chippie owner is Turkish.

28. You wouldn't want to live anywhere else until you get married.
more urban horror = reasons to start commutingMJ
Feb 8, 2002 9:28 AM
Just to let you know for your journey home later this afternoon.

If you are a regular traveller on the London Underground, here are some facts which you are going to wish you hadn't read. During Autumn of 2000, a team of scientists at the Department of Forensics at University College London removed a row of passenger seats from a Central Line tube carriage for analysis into cleanliness. Despite London Underground's claim that the interior of their trains are cleaned on a regular basis, the scientists made some alarming discoveries. The analysis was broken down. This is what was found on the surface of the seats:
4 types of hair sample (human, mouse, rat, dog)
7 types of insect (mostly fleas, mostly alive)
vomit originating from at least 9 separate people
human urine originating from at least 4 separate people
human excrement
rodent excrement
human semen

When the seats were taken apart, they found:
the remains of 6 mice
the remains of 2 large rats
1 previously unheard of fungus

It is estimated that by holding one of the armrests, you are transferring, to your body, the natural oils and sweat from as many as 400 different people. It is estimated that it is generally healthier to smoke five cigarettes a day than to travel for one hour a day on the London Underground. It is far more hygienic to wipe your hand on the inside of a recently flushed toilet bowl before eating, than to wipe your hand on a London Underground seat before eating. It is estimated that, within London, more work sick-days are taken because of bugs picked up whilst travelling on the London Underground than for any other reason (including alcohol).
re: Nothingmr_spin
Feb 8, 2002 9:15 AM
You may think you are inflicting your white bread ideals on these people, but turn it around. They are inflicting their "panhandler" ideals on you. Whatever those are. It doesn't just flow one way.

I usually don't give anything. In fact, I usually ignore them completely. I learned my lesson during the years I worked in Santa Monica, which is Mecca for homeless people. In my attempts to help, I encountered more than a few truly dangerous people. No, they're not all dangerous, but I am not interested in discovering who is and who isn't anymore.

I also have a big problem with people who use shame to get what they want. Whether they are homeless people, or poets, priests or politicians, it's basically a shakedown.

One last thing. I remember in Los Angeles there was a homeless guy who had the title of "homeless advocate." His name was Ted something. He was always showing up on the news, speaking to the city council, doing lawsuits, etc. I always wondered if he had put that much effort into not being homeless, he wouldn't be homeless.
It's usally so hard to tell . . .Steve98501
Feb 10, 2002 6:01 PM
Some of these folks are out there because the state hospitals that use to house them were closed. They are in serious need of help, but there are few mechanisms to provide it, other than the local soup kitchen.

Then there's the late teens/young adults panhandling downtown on Friday night. I just ask them if their mother knows that they're out here behaving this way. And the guy with the dog and homeless vet cardboard sign on the freeway off ramp and the island next to the supermarket. These guys live in the woods (co-worker followed them there) in a camp they've set up on the property of a private college. The local newsman tried hiring all the panhandlers at the freeway ramps and shopping centers one day, and none of them would take work for pay. He followed one home at the conclusion of his "shift" to a not so shabby apartment house. There must be gradations of homelessness.

I can't tell the difference. I won't give panhandlers a nickle. But I'll support the local soup kitchen. The people who eat there do so because they truly need to or simply know no shame. I'd rather buy them a meal than give money to an unknown purpose.
re: Nothing....Food or Money.....Me Dot Org
Feb 10, 2002 11:19 PM
I live 2 blocks from Golden Gate park in San Francisco, also about 4 blocks from Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute at U.C.S.F. My neighborhood has more than its fair share of homeless and crazy people, some of whom have been here for many years.

Homelessness HAS gotten worse in the last 25 years. I can remember growing up in California when seeing a street person was extremely unusual. Nowadays it is a fact of life. I think drugs, family breakups and lack of social programs all play a part.

There are homeless people who are sweet, there are homeless people who are mean, there are homeless people who are crazy.

What do you call a guy that cons you out of a buck to buy some beer?

A lazy homeless bum.

What do you call a guy who cons thousands of people out their life savings to invest in a fraudulent company?

'Kenny Boy', aka Kenneth Lay, former President of Enron.

Yeah, I've had guys try to 'scam' me, although most homeless people ask for 'spare change', which I don't think is a scam.

I don't give to most. Sometimes I''ll give to two in a row, sometimes I'll pass ten in a row. If I'm feeling compassionate I give, if I'm not I don't. I give more on rainy days than dry days.

The one thing I have to work on is making eye contact when I say no.
There is a difference between someoneKristin
Feb 11, 2002 8:21 AM
who wants to change and someone who doesn't. I don't think you can answer the question of whether or not to offer money, food, etc... until you know a particular persons situation. That takes time and energy. Do you have some time to offer?

Three stories:
Michelle: At age 14, the state removes Michelle from her abusive mother and places in a group home. The group homes guardian is casual about discipline, and the girls are cruel. They intimidate Michelle into getting drunk with some guys, then threaten they to kill her. She runs way! Alone on the streets of a tough city, she can't go home and can't call the police. After wandering for a while, she finally sits down in a Dunken Doughnuts--no money, no food. Several people enjoying coffee around her take notice; but quickly avert their eyes. A 17 year old girl enters the shop for a second time. Her name is Amy, and she is a prostitute. Amy notices Michelle and buys her a bowl of chilly, then offers her a place to sleep. You see, two years earlier, Amy sat in that shop pregnant and alone after her father had disowned her.

Carl: Carl is in his 40's. He's a homeless man who holds the door for tips at Michelle garrage downtown. He's always pleasant and cheeful...not like a typical homeless person. One day, Michelle--now gainfully employed in her 30's--works up the courage to ask Carl's story. She's curious why Carl is homeless. Carl explains that he lost his wife and baby girl all at once and is unable to return to normal living. He does not want to carry on without his wife and daughter, so he chooses the streets.

David: David is 43, he has been on the streets for many years. You can describe him to any pastor within a 100 mile radius and they all will say, "yes...I know David well. He comes to our church at least 5 times a year looking for help." The problem is that David only wants one David can explain clearly the key points of at least 3 major religions. But no one knows his real story. If you get to know him well enough, you begin to realize that he says only what he thinks want to hear. At this time, he is choosing to live on the streets and pan handle. And he doesn't have any motivation to change.

So, do all three need money? Tough call. I've been trained by my church to discern what homeless people need -- which is often quite different than what they are asking for. If you truly want an answer to your question, I recommend that you work in a homeless ministry for about 6 months. If you do so, you will quickly begin to understand who is who and what is needed. Keep in mind, there are no easy answers. Getting involved will change you as much as others.

Very true...Spinchick
Feb 11, 2002 2:56 PM
very thoughtful post.

Hey, where've ya been? It's been Claire and I and all these guys.

Glad you're back.
well said kristin...harlett
Feb 13, 2002 4:46 PM
living next to the beach in santa monica i'm quite often in contact with people living outside and in difficulty-- i've had many moments of connection with them that are real treasures-- in the face of serious and difficult life circumstances i've seen demonstrations of generosity, helpfulness, wisdom and compassion--
people who have no place to live or are in crisis can also be very difficult though-- if someone has been abused or lost their job or has lost control of their life due to addiction or mental illness or other problems it is not difficult to understand why they wouldn't be in a good mood-- it can also be hard to feel compassion for someone who is ungrateful, expresses anger inappropriately, shows no motivation and who is not dealing honestly with their issues-- but it's too easy for us to slip into judgment about someone whose life is falling apart-- there but for the grace of god....
people who are poor are often characterized as graciously ready to lap up the help we want to afford them-- as givers we often have unspoken expectations: that our gifts be received amiably, that we be thanked for our generosity, that our gift be used to address the problems of the struggling person-- unfortunately this isn't always the result--
poverty, addiction and mental illness can be ugly-- there biting grip can starve the body and spirit and force uncharacteristic, extreme behavior-- when people are so desperate that their only concern is surviving they can take to certain behaviors in their desperation to survive-- to survive, things like manipulating others and stealing are all too easy when the moral means to survive fails--
we can't condone such actions, but with eyes of compassion we can look below the surface of the individual situations for an understanding of the poverty and illness that forces such behaviors--
for me one of the rewarding things about santa moncia is that we as a city try and help with some of the basic needs of those in trouble-- when some of the basic needs are met people can begin to look beyond the measures they must take to just survive-- certain "survival" behaviors will take time to unlearn, but i've witnessed people seeing life's possibilities and potential again because of the help given-- i've witnessed some real courage in people trying to put their lives back together again--
we need to celebrate the complexities of every person-- each person is made up of many facets-- when one or more parts of a persons life is out of order we too easily use labels like homeless, mentally ill or welfare mom-- these labels rob people of the breadth of their identity-- when we use them we blind ourselves to the wholeness of the other person--
each person holds their own unique story-- each person has their own unique potential and dreams-- when i have a conversation with someone who's life is not working i always try to focus part of the conversation on that persons identity and strengths-- when we let go of labels the identity and strengths of individuals can come alive-- this is not to deny the points of struggle in the lives of those who are chained to such labels, but it is to admit that the "homeless", "alcoholic", "mentally ill" and other labels are actually multi-faceted human beings-- i use conversation to build a short or in some cases continuing connection-- since i have friends in the social service areas in this city i can provide that information if asked-- i have these conversations not being dependent upon an outcome or expectation of results--
when we are faithful to caring about others, over time the fruits of that caring will be harvested--